SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
© 1997-2001, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved.
People & Demographics | Hispanic Tejano Patriots

 

Native Latin American Contribution
to the Colonization and Independence of Texas

The Slavery Question | Ban on Anglo Immigration & Separation | Participation in Resistance

by Eugene C. Barker
(Text of a lecture delivered at Harlingen, Texas, June 1935 to The League of United Latin American Citizens, subsequently printed in vol. XLVI, no. 4, April 1943)

For more biographical detail, Search Handbook of Texas Online

We have a story, probably true, that Governor Martinez refused at first to receive Moses Austin's application for permission to settle a colony in Texas and only reconsidered upon the intercession of Baron de Bastrop, whom Austin had known years before in Louisiana. There is abundant evidence, however, that in refusing to encourage Austin, Martinez acted in deference to instructions from superior authority and not because he was averse to immigration from the United States or elsewhere. In fact, he had been bemoaning the backward condition of Texas for several years ever since his arrival at San Antonio as governor in 1818. Having consented to examine Austin's papers and learning that he had been a Spanish subject before the sale of Louisiana to the United States, Martinez forwarded his application to the Commandant General with urgent recommendations that it be granted. To understand the procedure that followed it is necessary to glance at the form of the government.

Texas in 1821 was one of the Eastern Interior Provinces, an administrative division of New Spain consisting of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, and Texas. The chief administrative officer was the Commandant General, Joaquin de Arredondo. Arredondo was assisted by a council made up of representatives of these four states, and Texas was represented by Ambrosio Maria de Aldasoro. Aldasoro wrote Governor Martinez on January 17, 1821:

"In the meetings that we have had I have kept in mind the needs of the province, and have obtained permission, with the greatest difficulty, for the Missouri families to remove themselves to Texas as you desire."

A year later when it seemed that Austin's contract might not be confirmed by the new Mexican government, Martinez wrote:

"This vast country contains only two settlements---those of Bexar and La Bahia [Goliad]---with a population of 2516 souls ... The population of this province is very backward and it is absolutely necessary for the nation to make some effort to people it. Admitting foreigners would be the easiest, least costly, and most expeditious method of enlarging the population."

Thus it is evident that the governor welcomed the prospect of immigration from the United States, and he exerted himself consistently, until his recall from San Antonio in 1822, to further Austin's plans. Chronologically next to Bastrop and Martinez among prominent San Antonians to identify himself with the interest of the incoming Anglo-Americans, was Erasmo Seguin. He received Stephen F. Austin at Natchitoches in July, 1821, and escorted him to San Antonio. Approaching San Antonio on the return, Seguin wrote the Governor:

"I am accompanied by sixteen Americans from those who expect to settle on the Colorado. They are led by Stephen Austin, who, on account of the death of his father, comes to fulfill his contract. I suppose that you will want to entertain him and those who accompany him---all of them, as I am informed, of highly respectable families-in the best manner possible. Therefore I notify you so that you may, if you think it desirable, have suitable lodgings prepared for them for the four or five days they will stay in the capital."

A very warm friendship developed between Austin and Seguin and all his family. Austin always stayed at the Seguin home when he visited San Antonio, and his younger brother lived with the Seguins for more than a year during 1822-1823 while he was learning Spanish. We have an acknowledgement of Austin's social and pecuniary indebtedness to Seguin in a letter that he wrote to his secretary in 1833. He was then in San Antonio on his way to Mexico.  He wrote Williams:

"I owe something to Don Erasmo [Seguin]---he refused to receive pay for the time my brother staid here, and I have always staid here in my visits to Bexar and he never would receive pay---he has planted cotton and wants a gin. I wish you to make arrangements to get one for him on mv account---not of the largest size, a strong gin of the common kind would suit him better than any other, for it would be easier kept in order. I wish you to write to him on the subject."

The political relations of the two men were always of the closest. Seguin represented Texas in the National Congress in 1824 and exerted himself faithfully to advance the interest of colonization. He was always ready to assist Austin with sympathetic advice, but a more detailed impression of his services must be inferred from his relation to certain topics to be treated presently.  Before turning to these topics, two other men must be mentioned personally---the Baron de Bastrop and Ramón Músquiz.  Bastrop's intercession for Moses Austin has already been noticed. Bastrop was, of course, not a Latin American. I think he was a Dutchman. He had been long a resident of San Antonio, however, and his attitude was typical of that of native Latin American citizens of Texas. In 1823 he was appointed by Governor Luciano Garcia land commissioner for Austin's first colony, and his name is signed to the titles issued to some 275 of the first 300 colonists. In 1824 he was elected to represent Texas in the state congress, or legislature, of Coahuila and Texas, and literally spent the rest of his life in the effort to shape the constitution and the laws of the state in the furtherance of colonization.

Músquiz was the political chief and the highest civil official in Texas from 1827 until 1834. All of the official relations of the colonists with the state and federal governments had to be conducted through him, and no one who studies his correspondence during these years can doubt his earnest and sincere desire to promote in all legal ways the welfare and interests of the colonists.  The rest of this discussion, for the sake of concreteness, concerns itself with the relation of the San Antonio Mexicans to three topics of supreme importance to the colonists: (1) the maintenance of negro slavery in the colonies; (2) the movement for reforms in local administration and for the separation of Texas from Coahuila; and (3) the support of the Texas revolution. It can not be emphasized too strongly, however, that the contribution of these native inhabitants to the development of Texas consisted not so much in the performance of specific acts of service as in the maintenance of a sympathetic spirit of cooperation. Their friendliness was indispensable.

1. The Slavery Question

To Austin and the men of his time, the rapid development of Texas seemed absolutely dependent upon the right of the colonists to introduce negro laborers in the form of slaves or contract servants. To them, it was a practical question of physical energy. The country was a wilderness and there was no labor for hire. Many leaders of the new Mexican nation, however, were saturated with the liberal philosophy of the French Revolution, and slavery was abhorrent to them. Austin, by great exertion and skillful lobbying, obtained the legalization of slavery in his first colony of three hundred families, but children born to slave parents in Texas were to be free at the age of fourteen. This law was passed in January, 1823, during the reign of Iturbide. In July, 1824, however, the Republican Congress passed a law forbidding the further introduction of slaves into any part of the Mexican Republic.  Seguin was a member of the Congress which passed this law against the further introduction of slaves. He deplored it, but could do nothing to prevent its passage. On July 24, 1825, he wrote Austin:

"I agree with you that the great development of your colony, and of the other colonies of Texas, depends among other things, upon permitting their inhabitants to introduce slaves; that by such action many men of property will come; and that without it only the wretched will come who cannot advance the province. But, my friend, in my Congress such arguments were not listened to. On the contrary, when slavery was discussed the whole Congress become electrified in considering the wretchedness of that portion of humanity; and it was resolved that commerce and traffic in slaves should be forever extinguished in our republic and that the introduction of slaves into our territory should not be permitted under any pretext."

He thought that the only remedy now lay in the state legislature. Austin might rest assured, he said, that the legislature would interpret the federal act as favorably as possible, declaring that certain members of the legislature had been spoken to about the matter.  Contrary to Seguin's forecast, however, the legislature was not disposed to favor slavery. During the summer of 1826 reports reached Texas that it was proposed to abolish existing slavery by constitution and forbid further importation of slaves. Austin was desperate, and sent his brother to Saltillo to reinforce Bastrop, who was doing all that he could to obtain a more favorable provision.  On the way, Brown Austin stopped at San Antonio to confer with the local Mexicans. He describes their attitude in a letter of August 22, 1826:

"I have had much conversation with Saucedo and others on this subject. I see no reason why you should apprehend the abolition of the Slaves belonging to the 300 families; the thing is decided with regard to that point those slaves are guaranteed to the settlers by the Law of Colonization and they can not be deprived of them---this is the opinion that prevails in this place---The Ayuntamiento of this place presented a memorial to the Legislature as soon as the project arrived-praying that the discussion on that important point might be suspended until they could have time to consider upon it, and inform the other Ayuntamientos of the Department, that they might do the same. Since then they have given it the attention it merited-and by the last mail have sent up a representation couched in the strongest language they could express in favor of the admission in the New Colonies---they declare it to be indispensable to the prosperity of this Department; in fact they have said all they can say---As to the prospect of freeing the slaves of the 300 families, they declare it to [be] an unjust abuse of the rights of the Colonists-As to the plan of indemnifying the Settlers for their slaves, it is absurd; where is the State to obtain 500,000 in cash to pay for the slaves that are already introduced- for it is not expected they will be deprived of them---and lay out of their capital 3 or 4 years all these things have been considered---and for my part I have a more flattering hope of a favorable slave law at this time than I have ever had before---Your representation has been sent on---they say it is "algo duro---but they make allowances---Saucedo showed me a letter from the Baron and the Senator Cevallos on this subject. The viejo is very warm on the subject---you will receive a copy of it by mail. The Old Baron has strove hard for us--- I know not what would have been our fate if he had not been a member of the Legislature---Our situation would have been a deplorable one indeed---If a favorable Slave Law is passed it will be attributed in a great measure to the unremitted exertions of the Baron and I wish the Settlers to know it---"

Turning aside to a personal matter, but one which casts of pleasant light upon his relations with the Seguin family, Brown Austin wrote:

"Berrimendi and Don Erasmo's son Juan will start on the Ist of next month for New Orleans. They calculate to go by San Felipe. You must try and be at home---I wish you to be very particular in yr attention to Juan for my sake, for I am certainly indebted to his family for inumerable favors---[ Should ] he want a new supply of provisions, furnish him with the best, let it cost what it may---Also he will want letters of recommendation to persons in New Orleans which I wish you to furnish him with. He goes on to purchase goods, probably to the amt of $1000 or $1,200-Also tell Mrs. Picket to have some good butter for him to take along on the road---

At Saltillo the combined influences of Bastrop, Brown Austin, and the petitions and representations from San Antonio changed the form of the constitutional declaration to read that immigrants might continue to bring in slaves for six months but that all children born to slave parents thereafter should be free.  The next step was to get a law through the legislature legalizing labor contracts entered into by masters and servants in foreign countries. Such a law was passed in May, 1828, with the cordial cooperation of Ramón Músquiz, who had succeeded Antonio Saucedo as political chief. José Antonio Navarro and Miguel Arciniega were representing Texas in the Legislature. They took advantage of a heated contest over another bill and slipped the labor law through without debate. Both Navarro and Arciniega wrote Austin that under other circumstances they might not have succeeded, and Arciniega dropped a hint that it might be repealed when members got their bearings and realized what they had done.  In practical operation, this law permitted masters and slaves to enter into contracts. On the one side, nominally, a master sold a slave his freedom in exchange for an agreement to labor. On the other side, the slave contracted to work for his former master at stipulated wages until he had repaid to the master his value. And the wages were so low that, in the words of Peter Ellis Bean, the laborer was the same to master as before. The existence of legal slavery in the first colony and of slavery by contract in the other colonies continued to be a sore point in Mexico. At the same time Mexican statesmen had come to question the wisdom of unrestricted immigration into Texas from the United States. John Quincy Adams, while President, had twice tried to obtain Texas for the United States and President Jackson was known to favor its acquisition. Far-sighted statesmen feared that continued colonization of Texas from the United States, might further the aims of American expansionists by the route of revolution, and Colonel José María Tornel conceived the idea of checking immigration, particularly from the southern states, by abolishing slavery in Mexico.

According to Tornel's own account, he induced President Guerrero to issue a decree emancipating all slaves on September 15,1829. Guerrero acted under authority of a law vesting in the President extraordinary powers to repel the Spanish invasion of that year, and it may be doubted whether he understood the import of Tornel's suggestion. To him, it seemed an appropriate and graceful commemoration of Mexican independence. Owners of emancipated slaves were to be compensated when the resources of the treasury permitted.

The emancipation decree reached the political chief at San Antonio in October, 1829. It was his duty to transmit it to the ayuntamientos for local execution. Instead of doing so, he called a conference of members of the San Antonio ayuntamiento and leading citizens of the town and, together, they decided that the decree should be withheld from publication in Texas until a petition could be sent to the President asking him to except Texas from its operation. Músquiz then forwarded, through Governor J. M. Viesca, a petition and argument which could not have been strengthened by Austin himself. His letter to the governor, dated October 25, 1829, read as follows:

I have received the decree of the President of the United States dated September 15, abolishing slavery in the Republic, which you forwarded to me in your communication of the 29th of this month. At the moment of preparing to publish and circulate the said decree, reflection occurred to me concerning the injuries which an exact fulfilment of this decree would cause in this department; and since I understand that it is one of my principal duties to report all evils which may threaten the Supreme Government for your due consideration and final decision, I thought it my duty to defer its publication until I could make this report was the purpose indicated, so that you may give my report such consideration as you think it merits, and bring it to the attention of the President so that he may weight it in the balance of equity and consider the peculiar circumstances in which this important part of the state finds itself, hoping that he may, perhaps, think it desirable to make another decree, granting to this department an exemption from the decree of the 15th of September.

The first colony which was established in this department was established in virture of the decree of the Imperial Government of the 18th of February, 1823…….Only the undertaking of Stephen F. Austin, composed of 300 foreign families, was included in this law. Later the general colonization law of August 18, 1824, and the state colonization law of March 24, 1825, were passed. Under these laws various contracts have been celebrated by the State and Federal Governments. Article 8 of the general colonization law of August 18, 1824, says: "The Mexican-nation offers to foreigners who come and establish themselves in its territory security for their persons and property."

Article I of the State colonization law of the 24th of March, 1825, says explicitly: "All foreigners who in virture of the general law of August 18, 1824, which guarantees them security for person and property in the Mexican nation, and who wish to plant themselves in the settlement of the states of Coahuila and Texas may come, and the said State invites and calls them."  Under such solemn guarantees have the foreigners who now inhabit this department settled her, and after they have been so solemnly assured by the Mexican nation of security for their persons and property, and after, in addition, the state has invited and called them it does seem very hard to deprive them now of their property by a decree of the Supreme Government, and especially of that property which is of the most importance for agriculture and for raising cattle and for the other labors to which they have devoted themselves. For they cannot carry on these labors without the aid of the robust and almost indefatigable strength of that race of the human species called negroes, who, to their misfortune, suffer slavery.

But I hope I may be allowed to make this observation these unfortunates, when they came to this country, were already slaves and their masters regarded them as things, objects of commerce. Neither the Government nor the inhabitants of the country have made them slaves. It is a condition which they brought with them, and they were introduced for the purpose of making them labor in the fields. To give freedom to these laborers would be the same as ruining this important branch of public welfare.  Two rights of great importance are seen in this question: namely, liberty and property. Which is the most sacred and most respectable of these two rights in our case in the Mexican Republic? We have here a problem which is not to be settled easily. Philanthropy and the natural sentiments of humanity speak promptly in favor of liberty, but the laws which regulate society take the part of property and declare it to be sacred and inviolable---that no one should be deprived of his property without due process of law.

In view of what I have said, I hope that you will not fail to see the fatal consequences which might be produced in the colonial establishments of this department by the publication and execution of the said decree, and for the same reason, I beg your excellency to interpose your influence so that the Supreme Government of the Union may grant to this department exemption from the decree which abolishes slavery; or communicate to me as quickly as possible your decision concerning the action that I should take. I assure you that on my part your order shall be complied with immediately. I have only sought to point out the evils that would follow the execution of the decree in this department. I estimate that the number of slaves in the new settlements is approximately one thousand of both sexes. Their owners value them at around 300,000 pesos.

Músquiz then wrote Austin about Guerrero's decree and told him what action he had taken to secure its withdrawal. J. A. Navarro also wrote Austin, on October 29, 1829:

The stupid law which the President has issued concerning the liberation of slaves! We have already written very strongly to the governor and to friends who may have great influence in the repeal of the decree. We have the satisfaction of having received in today is mail letters from some friends of the best deputies in the legislature at Saltillo telling of steps to be taken concerning its publication. You may rest assured that the best men of the state are opposed to such a law. It violates justice and good faith.

The governor cordially supported the protest of the San Antonians and assured Músquiz that he himself, even without the suggestion from San Antonio, would have asked that Texas be excepted from the operation of the decree. It happened, fortunately, that Agustin Viesca, brother of the governor, was secretary of State under Guerrero, and the prompt withdrawal of the decree in its application to Texas may well be attributed to his agency.

2. The Law of April 6th 1830 and the Movement for Separation from Coahuila

On April 6, 1830, Congress passed an act which was designed to accomplish Tornel's aim by direct method. It forbade the further settlement of Anglo-American colonists in Texas and sought to promote the colonization of Mexican families in the province to counterbalance the Anglo-Americans who were already there. By a strained construction of the law and the leniency of General Manuel Mier y Teran, commandant of the Eastern Interior, Provinces, Austin obtained for himself and Green DeWitt permission to continue the settlement of Anglo-American immigrants in their colonies until their contracts should expire by limitation. The law remained an obstacle and a menace, however, to the rapid development of Texas and was objectionable, therefore, to the San Antonio Mexicans as well as to the colonists.

In October, 1832, a convention at San Felipe addressed petitions to the State and Federal Governments asking for various reforms for Texas. The petitions to the federal government, with which we are most concerned, begged for an extension of the tariff exemption which the colonists had enjoyed since 1823, for repeal of the anti-immigration provision of the law of April 6, 1830, and for the separation of Texas from Coahuila and the erection of a state government in Texas. One of the chief advantages anticipated from the formation of a state government was to be freedom to establish a more convenient and suitable judiciary system for Texas. The San Antonio Mexicans were not represented in the convention, though delegates from Goliad arrived at San Felipe after the convention adjourned. In fact, the meeting of the convention violated a state law against assemblies and Músquiz ordered its proceedings dropped. He made it plain, however, that he cordially approved the objects sought by the convention and that his opposition extended only to the method of procedure. He pointed out that the law required that petitions be formulated by the ayuntamientos and forwarded by the political chief.

There can be no doubt of the sincerity of Músquiz and the other San Antonio Mexicans in desiring the reforms for which the convention asked. This was proved by what followed. Austin went to San Antonio in December, 1832, and induced a joint meeting of the ayuntamientos and of the principal citizens to adopt a vigorous arraignment of the abuses of the state and federal administrations. They attributed the backwardness and wretchedness of the Mexican settlements in Texas to neglect, and declared that the union of Texas and Coahuila was an insurmountable obstacle to the prosperous development of Texas. I can paraphrase only a few of the more striking declarations of their long memorial:

'This corporation impressed now, as at many other times, by the great evils which at all periods this vicinity in common with the other settlements of the department has suffered evils through the destructive wars of the Indians as well as by the consistent neglect of our rulers has thought proper to draw up a very strong memorandum addressed to the State Congress, to which, without doubt, belongs the remedy of these sufferings. Therefore, we present the following statement: As organic ills in the human body demand bodily treatment, so do social ills in the body politic. Bexar has been established 140 years, Goliad and Nacogdoches, 116 years. In the meantime various presidios and villas on the San Marcos, Guadalupe, Colorado, Brazos and Trinity have been founded and have entirely disappeared. In some of these the inhabitants perished to the last man. In the only three towns which now exist---Bexar, Goliad and Nacogdoches---it is only necessary to look at the present census and review the neglect which they have at all time experienced and to understand that a great number of their original inhabitants and descendants have been sacrificed by the savages in the altars of the country. Not a few have died of starvation and from the destructive ravages of pestilence. Much of these sufferings has been due to the neglect and apathy of the authorities.

What sorrow! Only since 1821, ninety-seven men have been murdered by Indians in Bexar, Goliad, and the new settlement of Gonzales, not counting soldiers killed in campaigns. It must be remembered, too, that only during 1835-37 were the Indians at war. At other times they were nominally at peace. The population of the western frontier has suffered much more than other sections and is now threatened with total extermination by the rise of the Comanches.  The troops of this frontier have not had, during the past year, five per cent of their necessary supplies. The result is that it has been necessary to license at least half of the soldiers to work for their subsistence, so that not more than 70 men in Texas are now in arms, and these must be supported by the poverty stricken inhabitants who have engaged to supply them with grain and other commodities of absolute necessity. Little effective assistance can be expected from such a force.  There is plenty of evidence in the archives of this ayuntamiento to prove these and other assertions. We pass now to other exactions and injuries suffered by Texas since its union with Coahuila. These are: (1) unequal representation in the legislature. (3) dissimilarity of productions of the two provinces and inability of the legislature to understand needs of Texas. (3) the defective and burdensome judiciary system; (4) the exploitation of Texas lands' etc., etc."

Turning to federal matters:

"What shall we say of the law of April 6, 1830? It absolutely prohibits immigrants from North America coming into Texas, but there are not enough troops to enforce it; so the result is that desirable immigrants are kept out because they will not violate the law, while the undesirable, having nothing to lose, come in freely. The industrious, honest, North American settlers have made great improvements in the past seven or eight years. They have raised cotton and cane and erected gins and sawmills. This industry has made them comfortable and independent, while the Mexican settlements, depending on the pay of the soldiers among them for money, have lagged far behind. Among the Mexican settlements even the miserable manufacture of blankets, hats and shoes has never been established, and we must buy them either from foreigners or from the interior, 200 or 300 leagues distance. We have had a loom in Bexar for two years, but the inhabitants of Goliad and Nacogdoches know nothing of this ingenious machine, nor even how to make a sombrero.

The advantages of liberal North American immigration are innumerable: (1) The colonists would afford a source of supply for the native inhabitants. (2) They would protect the interior from Indian invasions. (3) They would develop roads and commerce to New Orleans and New Mexico. (4) Moreover, the ideas of government held by North Americans are in general better adapted to those of the Mexicans than are the ideas of European immigrants. It is unquestionable that the lack of a government which shall feel directly the needs of Texas and understand the means necessary to multiply its population and protect its welfare has been, is, and will continue to be the chief source of our sufferings!"

We have a letter from Austin to his secretary, Samuel W. Williams, telling the circumstances under which this document was adopted. It was written from San Antonio, December 6, 1832:

"I arrived here on the 3 inst.---yesterday there was a meeting of the principal citizens---that is the Chief-Erasmo [Seguin]---the Navarros---Col. Elosus---Balamaceda---Flores--Garza etc, and I gave them an exact discription of the evils that are retarding the progress of Texas. Stated in plain terms the necessity of separating from Coahuila, and the desire of the people generally to do so---and said everything I could to induce them to concur in taking that step at once. The matter was discussed and talked over with great calmness and interest. There was not a dissenting voice as to the necessity of a remedy and all agreed that separation from Coahuila was the best, but they thought it prescipitate to take that step before any representations of our grievances were made to the Govt. This they considered a necessary preliminary step. Finding that they would not agree to go into the meas[ures before] the intermediate step of representing had been resorted to, I urged the absolute importance of proceeding immediately to take that step, by the Ayuntam[ien]to of this place---that All grievances should be plainly and firmly stated, and that the remonstrance should terminate with a positive declaration that if our grievances were not fully redressed by the first day of March next, Texas would then proceed immediately to organize a local Government---They agreed to this, but thought March too short a time and April was proposed and I think will be agreed to. The conference was unofficial, of course---it lasted from nine A.M. to 2 P. M---They were unanimous, and I have full confidence that what was agreed on will be carried into effect.

The Ayuntamiento is now in session on this matter to appoint a committee to draw up the remonstrance, and I am of opinion that the [most impatient man] in Texas, will have no reason [to say that] it is too mild. The object is to form a list of all the insults offered to Texas, and all her grievances and to demand full satisfaction. If it is not granted, Texas can then say to Coahuila and to the world---we were insulted and oppressed---we asked redress---it was refused, and we have redressed ... [ If we succeed] in getting this Ayuntamiento to [pass] this remonstrance, as I have pro[ posed] and as we agreed to in the conference [yester]day, it will place Texas on much better ground than to go into the measure now, and it will unite this place and La Bahia firmly with the balance of Texas, for they will be so compromised that there will be no backing out, even if they wished to do so; which they will not, for they are as anxious for a separation as we are, but wish to show to the world that they are right, and stand on just ground in case force must ultimately be resorted to. I will return as soon as this matter is concluded.

Ramón Músquiz is one of the best friends to Texas and truest that lives in this place and he deserves the confidence of the Colony and of all Texas. Committe: Angel Navarro, Cosiano of the A[yuntamien]to, Erasmo, Balmaceda, and Antonio Navarro."

Austin wrote later concerning the influences of this document in Mexico:

"All Texas is greatly in debt to Bexar for the remonstrance of 19th Dec. last---That paper was reprinted here [in Mexico City] and has had more weight in favor of Texas than all that has been done or said. I doubt much whether the memorial of the Convention [of 1833] would have been even looked at had not the minds of Govt. been prepared by the Bexar representation. It came from natives and is believed."

Another convention was called for April 1, 1833, while Austin was in San Antonio. The call put him in a false light with his Mexican friends, because they had understood that no action would be taken until the government acted, or failed to act, upon their demand for reforms. The Convention of 1833 repeated substantially the demands of the preceding October: (1) extension of tariff exemption, (2) repeal of the prohibition against the settlement of Anglo-American colonists in Texas, and (3) the separation of Coahuila and Texas and the establishment of state government in Texas. Again San Antonio sent no delegates to the convention, but Austin, who was elected to present petitions to the Mexican government, went by San Antonio in the hope of being able to persuade the Mexican inhabitants to endorse the petitions and, if possible, induce them to send a representative to Mexico with him.

Austin reported what took place in San Antonio in a letter of May 6, 1833, to Luke Lesassier:

"We arrived at this place on the 29 having been detained by excessive rain, and high waters. Don Erasmo Seguin was absent at his plantation thirty miles below this, where he arrived only a few days since from Matamoros. I lost no time in sending for him, but the high waters prevented his reaching here until the 3d. inst. I communicated to him, his appointment as one of the mission to Mexico, and laid before him the memorial, which was translated with the aid of Carbajal and Balmaceda. The principal citizens of this place held meetings on the evenings of the 3d, 4th, & 5th instant to discuss this subject. At the meeting of the 4th it was decided that a memorial should be sent to the state govt. asking for the removal of the seat of government from Monclova to this place, Don Erasmo being the only one who was in favor of memorializing the General Congress for the separation and State Govt. A number of the others were in favor of saying to the Legislature of Coahuila and Texas, that if the seat of Govt. was not removed to this place, Texas would then separate---This meeting adjourned after 12 o'clock at night to meet the next evening. At the meeting on the fifth the only question to be decided was the manner of memorializing the state Govt. for a removal of the seat of Govt. as had been agreed to on the 4th. The late law of the State legislature regulating the "right of petitioning" was examined, and construed to mean that neither the Ayuntamiento nor the citizens in mass could petition, and that the memorial must only be signed by three persons at most in the name of the people. This construction I contented was erroneous. The laws says, that, none but the supreme powers of the State can represent the will of the people, and prohibits corporations or public meetings, or individuals from taking it upon themselves to say what is the will of the people etc. (See the law in alcalde records). The true meaning of this is, as I think, that no corporation or person can petition in the name of the people, without first consulting them, by calling them together. However it was decided that the law prohibited the Ayto. from petitioning or from calling the people together to petition, and that only three persons can petition. The next question was, who would do it? Only one man (Balmaceda) was willing to sign as one of the three, so that the meeting broke up without doing anything or coming to any definite conclusion. I believe that if the state Govt. is granted the people here will be well satisfied, but I do not believe they will take any part whatever in favor or against the measure. I considered it my duty to use every exertion to procure their co-operation, and have done so. The most that can be expected is, that they will not oppose it. The fact is, that the movement last summer against this place, from the colony has produced a much deeper impression than I was aware of until now. It has neutralized many who before that were openly warm friends and it has made some decided enemies to the colonists. Don Erasmo Seguin cannot go on the mission, I am convinced that no unfriendly feelings deter him-but his private affairs will not permit his leaving home."

Again it is evident from Austin's letter and from numerous documents in the Bexar archives that it was the method of procedure rather than the object of the petitions which held these law-abiding Mexican back. The result of Austin's mission to Mexico is well known. Congress repealed the prohibition against Anglo-American colonists. Santa Anna, in conference with Austin and Victor Blanco, declared that Texas did not yet have sufficient population to justify the organization of a separate state, but promised to use his influence with the legislature of Coahuila and Texas to gain for the Texans more liberal rights and privileges in local administration. Austin set out for home in December, 1833, and was arrested at Saltillo for writing an impudent letter to the ayuntamiento of San Antonio. He remained in prison in Mexico City throughout 1834, and, after his release from prison, was held on bond in the Federal District until July, 1835. He did not return to Texas until the end of August, 1835.

In the meantime, events had not stood still in Texas. The legislature, at it's spring session of 1834, passed a number of liberal laws enlarging the local self-government of the Texans and providing a practically independent judiciary system for Texas with trial by jury in civil and criminal cases. A quarrel between Monclova and Saltillo which culminated in the dissolution of the fall session of the legislature caused Juan Seguin, who was now political chief of the department of Bexar, to call a convention to take steps to remove the state government to San Antonio, but so well content were the mass of the colonists with the reforms that had been granted that they refused to participate and Seguin's movement failed.

3. Mexican Participation in the Revolution and Independence of Texas

In its origin the Texas Revolution was a protest against the overthrow of the Republican Constitution by Santa Anna. The Texans declared that they were fighting to restore the Republican Constitution of 1824. This fact probably made it easier for Mexican inhabitants to join in the movement. October 23, 1835, Stephen F. Austin, commanding the volunteers who had marched against San Antonio after the battle of Gonzales, appointed Juan N. Seguin a captain in the volunteer army and authorized him to raise a company of Mexicans. On November 11, Austin ordered Salvador Flores and a detachment of Mexicans on scouting service between the Medina and Nueces Rivers. How many men Seguin enlisted for the campaign of 1835 I do not know. During the next spring, however; he led a company of 20 Mexicans, most of them of old San Antonio families, in the battle of San Jacinto. He remained in the Texan service after the battle of San Jacinto and in February, 1837, gave military funeral to the ashes of the Alamo defenders.

Two San Antonians were in the Convention of 1836 and signed the Texas Declaration of Independence---J. A. Navarro and Francisco Ruiz. It is only when we consider the circumstances that we can realize the truly heroic resolution of these Mexican patriots who in the last crisis staked their fate with the colonists. In October, 1835, when Juan Seguin volunteered to fight with Austin's forces there were nearly a thousand regular soldiers in San Antonio commanded by the chief military officer of the Eastern Interior Provinces. When Seguin's company of twenty followed Houston in the battle of San Jacinto, Texas was occupied by all of Santa Anna's army. In the full sense of the word, they staked their fortunes on the result of the revolution.

For the sake of concreteness, I have confined this discussion chiefly to three topics: (1) the assistance which the Mexican inhabitants gave the colonists in the matter of slavery-even to the evasion of the state constitution and the federal law, (2) their protest against federal and state neglect and abuse, growing in large measurement out of the union of Coahuila and Texas, and (3) the cooperation of leading Mexicans in the Texas revolution. In truth, however, one cannot fully appreciate the friendliness of these San Antonio Mexicans for the colonists without a comprehensive reading of the great mass of correspondence---personal and official---preserved in the Austin papers and the Bexar Archives.

I should have liked to talk more about individuals: about Bastrop and Martinez and Antonio Saucedo, the first political chief, who preceded Músquiz. About Músquiz, himself, who belonged to an ancient family in northern Coahuila, where a town is named for the family. About Miguel Arciniega, a reserved old gentlemen whom Músquiz though perhaps too loath to believe evil of his fellow man. About the Verramendis, interwoven with the Navarros, and into whose family Bowie married. About the Seguins, father and son, and the Ruizes and about Antonio Padillo, who, as secretary of State in Saltillo, rendered Austin and the first colonists invaluable service. He later became a resident of San Antonio. But here again it is hard to be concrete. One sees them weaving in and out of the picture. One feels a very definite friendliness. Specific facts are not wanting, but they are too fragmentary to lend themselves to orderly narrative.

For a good many years I have sought to interest my graduate students in these early Mexican residents of San Antonio. I wish that we might compile an authentic biographical record, showing their services in the formative period of Texas history. I hope that some of you may be interested in carrying on such a study.

See Hispanic Tejano Patriots in the Struggle for Independence.


DeWitt Colony People & Demographics
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
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